With the introduction of the multiverse in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), fans know that anything is possible, including the use of variants, of alternate versions of popular MCU characters, a concept which was first introduced in the Disney+ series, Loki.
The recent reintroduction of Netflix’s Daredevil’s Matt Murdock in Spider-Man: No Way Home and Wilson Fisk aka Kingpin in Disney+’s latest Hawkeye series has not only surprised fans, it also brought about the inevitable question – are the current versions seen this year the same ones from the Netflix series from 2015, or are they variants?
Thankfully, actor Vincent D’onofrio, who played the infamous Marvel Comics villain across three seasons of the Netflix show, is ready to set the record straight, and appease fans attempting to connect the dots – yes, the Kingpin audiences see in Hawkeye is the same villain from Daredevil.
“He obviously has more physical strength and can take a lot more physical abuse but from story point of view, it was discussed that this is after The Blip, that he is the same guy that was in Daredevil, but he’s lost some of his power,” explained D’onofrio in an exclusive interview with Geek Culture.
“My arc in Hawkeye is that I want my power back, so from an actor’s point of view, it’s portraying him exactly, with the same kind of emotional feel and foundation that I did in Daredevil.”
Fans were teased early on, when his character was referenced in episode 3 of Hawkeye when Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) was told that her uncle would come pick her up after taekwondo lessons. His character was later confirmed in the final moments of episode 5.
The confusion stems from the fact that the multiple seasons from the Netflix series of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher and The Defenders were initially identified as part of the MCU, but the characters and storylines were never referenced in the movies, and after the shows were canceled, fans began to speculate that Marvel Studios had no intention of recognising them, until now.
D’onofrio portrayed the villain in 27 episodes of Daredevil, and also appeared in The Punisher. The Kingpin’s fate was left open ended after the third season of Daredevil was canceled with a cliffhanger. This confirmation from D’onofrio answers many questions fans have been wondering for the last three years – that he lived, and after leaving prison during The Blip when Thanos made half the population in the universe disappear, spent that time rebuilding his empire, and that the Kingpin is the same character across all the MCU shows.
The return of Kingpin wasn’t only an exciting affair for fans, but also for D’onofrio, who never imagined returning to the character after three years. He certainly didn’t expect to start off this year with a phone call from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige either.
“Very early in the year, they reached out, Kevin actually. Kevin called me and invited me to do Hawkeye. And you can imagine, I was extremely excited about that,” said D’onofrio.
Returning to a different set with the same character also proved to be a stimulating experience for the veteran actor, whose credits include acclaimed turns in Full Metal Jacket, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, especially when it came to reuniting with co-star Vera Farmiga, who played Eleanor Bishop in the series. While he technically only appears in two of the six episodes, D’onofrio has powerful scenes with Maya Lopez and Kazi (Fra Fee), as well as a massive showdown with Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop in the final episode.
“Vera, I’ve worked with before so I know that she’s a wonderful actress and so good. I’m always so impressed by her, and then with Hailee, I didn’t have a lot of dialogue but that fight scene was very technical and I was really impressed with her work ethic and she just seems like such a powerhouse on set,” he continued.
“And then with Alaqua and Fra, the two of them are both amazing actors and actresses. I love to be impressed by young people and I was definitely impressed. You know, it was really quite something, to be around young people with that kind of work ethic and that kind of talent. It inspires me. It was a wonderful thing.”
While Hawkeye has now allowed Kingpin to face off with other heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, D’onofrio does have a wish list of which hero he wants to meet face-to-face, and top of his list is everyone’s favourite webslinger.
“I think because of the history of the comic books when I was a kid – Punisher, Daredevil and Spider-Man. My hope is that someday, I get to face all of them as the character of Kingpin. I think that would be nice.”
Although the season finale hints at the ending of Kingpin’s story once and for all, D’onofrio doesn’t know what’s in store for the future but is hoping that it’s not actually the end, and that he can continue to play the character till his heart’s content.
“I don’t know. I can only hope that we do it,” smiled D’onofrio. “I think that would be great, and I think we just all have to keep our fingers crossed that it happens.”
Oh trust us, our fingers are crossed alright.
Catch Vincent D’onofrio as Kingpin in Hawkeye, only on Disney+.